Text: Romans 8:16-17
Title: Saints Preserved
Theme: God will never let his own fall away.
Goal: to encourage Christians that God will never let his own fall away.
Need: The thought of death makes us wonder if we will really have a place in heaven.
- Introduction how we might feel like we are always on the edge of falling away forever.
Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
Wouldn’t seeing the future be an incredible ability to have. I have thought about that before about what a relief it would be to be able to see ahead into the future.
It would especially come in handy during those huge transition times in life. Those times that seem to come up every so often. When you are graduating from high school, it would be nice to see which college or university would be right to chose. When you get into the real world, which job should I take. When you get into a serious relationship with someone, is this the person for me for the rest of my life? When you are buying a house. When you are facing an illness, it would be awesome just to take a peak ahead into the future.
Almost like those movies from the 80’s Back to the Future. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to look ahead to the future in order to be sure that things were going to turn out alright.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the way we are put together. There is only one who sees the future right. It’s God and its because God is already there. God is bigger than time as we know it. It is not for us to know. Its too much for our mortal minds even to understand.
One major transition in life that really can be worrisome for us is that transition from life in this world to life in the world to come. We talked last week about whether or not we really could be sure there is a next life. We looked at John 4 and heard Christ’s assurance that when we don’t have him with us we can be sure that he has prepared a place for us in the next life.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look forward into the next life, just be totally sure that we are in the next life. Just to make absolutely sure that we really don’t have anything to worry about.
It would be nice to have that ability, but of course we don’t. And often times that can leave us kind of teetering on the brink. We are not completely sure of ourselves, is our faith a true faith? Do I know for sure that the Holy Spirit really was working in my heart? Does God really want me, or am I just fooling myself with all this religion stuff that I do?
These again are very honest questions. They are questions that come up in all our minds. I think the weakness of our human nature is going to make it so we will always have at least some question about how God could really want us. After all, what holy God could want a load of sinners like us?
The answers to those questions are never as clear as we might want them to be. You can’t just turn in the New Testament to 3 Answers chapter 14 and find out the exact details. But even with out a book like in the Bible, in the books of the Bible, God’s word almost shouts words of assurance to us. Don’t worry! God’s people are always God’s people. You can’t fall out of salvation.
What we hear from God’s word is this: If you’ve truly felt the call of Christ, you can never fall out of his love. If you’ve truly accepted the call of Christ, you can never fall out of his love.
The first way we can know this is by our being pulled. Pulled. You hear words about being pulled in many places in Scripture. It talks about being elect. It talks about being called. It talks about being predestined. Whatever you want to call it. Scripture tells us that saving faith is a gift from God. And God, its all about God, God chooses whom he is going to give this gift to.
In that way it is like getting pulled. I picture it kind of like a fisherman’s net. He throws it out there. When the net is filled up, the fishermen pull the net back in with all the fish. That’s the way God works. He sees us swimming out in a world of sin, and he throws the net out there.
He doesn’t throw the nets out there and then just wait for us to swim to the boat… “Hear fishy, fishy… Oh I sure hope some of them swim to the boat.” God sees us, throws the net out there. He captures us by the gift of his saving grace, the gift of eternal life. And then he pulls and he pulls and he pulls some more. He makes sure that all those who he calls are pulled in. If you are called, if you are pulled, you are saved.
The second way we can be sure that the future holds eternal life for us is that God assures us that he preserves the people he pulls.
On this point, by the grace of Jesus Christ, God is so much better than the fisherman analogy. You when a fisherman is pulling in his nets, he can’t be so exact that every single fish he intended to catch he actually does catch. Not so with God, the ones that he is pulling in to salvation are not just yanked along. Their hearts are constantly being purified, made more holy. They are constantly being cared for and kept under the grace of God.
I don’t think you will ever see a fisherman climb over the side of his boat and hold up the sides of the net to keep all the fish in. That’s what God does. We are a catch so precious to him that he is not going to let us stumble and fall.
Revelation 12 is a very neat passage about the preservation of his people. In that chapter, John sees this vision of a woman that symbolizes the people of God, Old Testament Israel and the New Testament church. The woman is in danger because the dragon that tried to devour her baby is now trying to kill her. But God preserves her. The devil is not able to destroy or even touch his church. The devil can’t snatch away anyone that belongs to God. Revelation 12:6 says, “6 The woman fled into the desert to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. Then later, the snake pours out this river to try and swallow up the woman. The church is in trouble by this attack from the devil.
But God preserves his saints. He holds on to his church. He never lets his people be snatched away by the enemy. Verse 13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. 15 Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16 But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 
God preserves the people he has been pulling. God guarantees a place in heaven to all those he has blessed with faith. All those he has called.
Its especially comforting to know this when a loved one’s mind begins slipping. Perhaps they don’t know a thing about God anymore by the time they reach the end of their life, but you don’t have to worry about their salvation. It’s true too in the case of severe depression or other emotional disorders that seem to snatch faith in God away from you. It is good to know what you believe and be convicted inside about it, but when that stops because of mental or emotional disorder, there is no reason to think that saving faith has left the person.
God preserves his people. It is all about if you have been called. And you know you have been called if you have felt that saving faith and acknowledged Jesus as savior of your life. Its not about what your devotional life was like on the day you died.
There’s a story about a Railroad worker from the 1800’s. His name was Phineas Gage. While he was at work one day, an explosion happened that sent a 3.5 foot, 13 pound tamping rod right through his left check and out through his skull. Miraculously, it missed all major organs, except the brain. When he went into the doctors, they could reach into the wound from either side of his head and touch their fingers together. This was terrible stuff.
He survived. The part of his brain that was damaged wasn’t critical for his life, but it was part that affected the control of his actions. After the action, he mentally didn’t have much control over his actions. We are taught to think through the words we say and the things we do. He couldn’t. That part of his brain was destroyed.
But even with this man that has no self-control, who can’t exhibit the fruit of the spirit, if he was a person of faith before hand, we can be sure that after he passed away he went to be with his lord.
In spite of injury, or imbalanced brain chemicals, sickness of the brain, or just regular old age, God holds on to the ones he called.
That brings us finally to the last part. And that is where we come in. He not only preserves us, he makes it so that we are able to persevere. Those that God has blessed with able body, mind a soul, he makes sure that they go through life able to be faithful through all the temptations. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says it wonderfully. “13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.  There are going to be times when we sin. There are going to be times when we fall away from God. But what God calls us to do is to persevere. He is pulling. He is preserving us. We need to be faithful and persevere as best a we possibly can.
We will not be perfect. We will not be free from being tempted. But we will never be tempted so far that we will completely fall away. We cannot fall out of the grace of God. He pulls us. He preserves us. He calls us to persevere and will never tempt us with more than we can bear.
Let’s live this life with that assurance and that confidence about the next life. Even though we do not see into the future, let’s be confident through God’s word of what the future will be for us. God has prepared a place, and he is constantly preserving his saints for those homes of eternal glory with him.
This is God’s will from his word. And all God’s people say. AMEN.
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Re 12:6
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Re 12:13-17
 The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 1 Co 10:13